When I first smelled saffron, years, ago, I hadn't had much experience smelling things. Or, rather, smelling things with concentrated attention, and comparing them against things in my mind which I'd similarly smelled. My initial--and enduring--impression of saffron (the dried spice) was that it "smelled like myrrh." The essential oil. And so it went for several years, as I read myrrh described variously as "toffee-like amber" and "a forest floor." If you'd have asked me last year, I'd have said that myrrh oil had a faint odor of autumn leaves, crushed underfoot recently after a rain. Buy usually I just said that myrrh smelled like saffron.
Sometime later I became acquainted with Safraleine, which plays a pretty large part in the Tom of Finland scent, if you've ever smelled it. Safraleine has a very leathery profile, especially at first, where it has this sort of "chemical" leather smell, something you might expect from a vinyl article that's been replaced with a leather smell. It's not an unpleasant type of leather, it's just a very smoothed-over smell. It's not smoky, and it's not warm and ambery like the leather of Cuir de Russie. It's a modernish leather smell. And it's not enough, apparently, to carry a leather smell. I say this because I've read other peeps' experiences with it. So I presume either upon dilution or drydown it becomes less leathery. Interestingly, thegoodscentscompany.com, which really does deserve some kind of award for its exhaustive cataloguing of aromachemicals, describes it as an herbal odorant, with leather/herbal/spicy/tobacco/rose ketone facets. I've tinkered with it before, but it wasn't until I my first sort-of perfume "success" that I started to really get to know it.
The success I'm referring to: I got a coconut body spray from Bath & Body Works (I figured coconut would work least intrusively for what I was going for) and tried to make it more of a hay note (or, rather, my idea of hay). I added shit tons of coumarin and octahydrocoumarin, but it wasn't working. So I added tobacco absolute, a new mown hay base and dimethyl hydroquinone. BLAMN! Suddenly I had a great tobacco hay thing on my hands, and sometimes when I smelled it, I was like, "This smells like one of those great tonka/tabac scents that I would shell out craploads of money for IF I HAD IT (but since I don't, I don't buy the Tom Ford Tobacco Vanilla or the Hermes Vetiver Tonka, which isn't really all that great, or the Guerlain thing where they put coumarin notes against heliotrope accords.....)." So I'm pretty much there. I figured I would maybe just add some amber oil for fullness (I don't really care what's in the "amber" oils--surely some synthetic blend of benzoin, vanilla and whatever types---they create a resiny, oily type of amber smell which I like, a "hippie amber" if you will, and that's what I'm after--a prefab note that's nice and dark and oily and resiny and will sweeten the tabac, which I will probably add more of), and maybe helichrysium if it wasn't retarded expensive (I think it might be.). So I was out looking at essential oils today and smelled some myrrh and, since the price wasn't off-the-charts tardo, I got it. Now about this myrrh.....
The first thing I thought when I smelled it: This smells like Safraleine!!!!! In fact, it smelled SO MUCH like Safraleine that I kept comparing it to it in my mind to find difference. I think the myrrh oil is smokier, more herbal, obviously less strong, but overall very similar. Perhaps it's earthier in the drydown. I'll have to compare it directly to the Safraleine later, but it seems very similar. I wondered: could this myrrh, especially considering its viscosity, be adulterated with Safraleine? And then I thought how ridiculous that would be, because I think Safraleine may still be under patent, so adulterating myrrh with Safraleine (even though the retail prices of both in small quantity could possibly justify it) would seem ridiculous. But what I do conclude from this exercise is that saffron and myrrh probably do share a certain olfactory characteristic.
Oh, I should say here or at some point that when I ran into Luca Turin at Enfleurage and mentioned Safraleine, he said that it pretty closely hued to the odor of saffron absolute.
So I take it all to mean that I was right originally in comparing myrrh to saffron.
The takeaway, however, is that I'm finally getting a pinch of success in perfumemaking. In that my tabac fragrance is starting to smell lovely. And I imagine the addition of this myrrh, judiciously applied, should help it as well. I suppose time will tel.
Anyway, that's the gloop for today.